Fast forward about 11 years and Ott has, “My first real paying job. I was a truck driver…”
Ott began working on the docks then moved up to “P and D ... local pickup and delivery…”
That guy standing with him, Will Tate, now a supervisor with the company, worked back in the day with Ott, and they are still good friends.
“I still have my Class B CDL, db…”
But as he says that, behind me, Jennie starts laughing, so I put the camera down and just look at her.
“db, one day Ott is on the job making a delivery in Knoxville and talking on the phone to me and suddenly I hear this huge noise and Ott says, ‘Uh-oh, got to call you later.’ What he did was he took a 10-foot truck under a 9-foot tree, peeled the whole top of the truck right off.”
Ott just looks at me and shakes his head; Will just smiles. “I got laid off a month after that, but it didn’t have anything to do with the tree incident.”
Will is still smiling.
“You hungry?" Ott asks as he pulls into here:
Cardin's Drive-In, located in Four-Way, Tenn., just a short distance from their home. It’s been around “basically forever,” and is the kind of joint where a waitress comes out to your car, takes your order and then brings your food back to you on a metal tray that hooks onto your car door.
I ordered two hot dogs and a root beer float. The dogs cost $1.60 each.
Ott and Jennie got burgers and an Oreo milkshake each.
But this stop wasn’t just about the food.
Ott did most of the talking.
“When I got laid off from the trucking company, we had nothing, I didn’t have another job. Fishing was it; we had to make fishing work.”
Jennie just looks at me; she doesn’t have to say anything. Both my wife, Barb, and I have been in the same situation…me out of work.
I know the feeling.
“I’m a very religious man, db. We both are very religious. I believe in Heaven, I believe in Hell, believe in the Bible, but also believe that things happen when they are supposed to happen, that God has a plan.”
I just shook my head, yes. Don’t know what the answer is but I do know that we are all on a bus that we aren’t driving. Me, personally, I’m just a passenger looking out the window wondering what’s going on.
"Ott, Jennie, I don’t think miracles have to be walking on water. I think love is a miracle, and to find someone to love, who loves you back just as much, I’ll take that as a miracle.
I think those moments when the whole universe seems to line up and that everything just goes right, take that as a miracle as well, as like the guy driving the bus showing you how wonderful life could be.
I think miracles happen everyday; we just need to learn to see them.”
Both smiled, because both showed me one of those everyday miracles I was talking about…
Laid off with the only option, fishing, “It’s not like we are rich but since being laid off I have won over a million dollars fishing, 650-thousand with B.A.S.S. It doesn’t mean we are millionaires or anything; you look at your bank account and wonder where it all goes with three little kids, but we went from basically no future to this…”
And when he said, “to this…” he wasn’t talking about the land, the new house to be built. I know because I followed his eyes to…
…Jennie…and his three children.
Ott, my good friend, the miracle isn’t the fish you catch or the land you stand on. The miracle is the cheek pressed up against yours, the tiny hands that holds yours.
For the man up there driving…family…is the first miracle bus stop.
As I drove away, I drove into this…
…dusk in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Trust me, when you grow up with a city backyard the size of a putting green, this sight is damn-near a miracle itself.
As I drove down the road, I reached over and put a Bruce Springsteen Live Concert CD in the rental car radio…hit the button on the steering wheel several times stopping on track 12.
And off those mountains blasted the song, “From Small Things, Big Things One Day Come.”
To you under those gilded domes.
To you on Wall Street.
To you inside the beltway.
And stay out of the way.
Me, I’m taking America in the bleacher seats.
America of dreams,
America of miracles,
three mailbox roads.